I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Ina Zaimi, a freshman at the University of Michigan and fan-favorite at The Graide Network. To describe Ina as an over-achiever would be a terrible understatement. Not only is she pursuing a double major in English and Biochemistry, Ina has also been an all-star Graider this past semester. The teachers she has worked with have been thoroughly impressed, praising Ina’s consistent, thoughtful feedback, her engagement and professionalism, and the accuracy and quality of her work. Ina’s passion for education and her care for student learning shines through in her words and in her work, and I am very honored to name her March Graider of the Month!
While she doesn’t quite remember this herself, Ina’s mom is happy to recount the tale. When asked the perennial question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, a 5-year old Ina proudly and excitedly replied, “A teacher!” However, it wasn’t until she entered college that she knew teaching was her true calling. Ina laughs now - “I should have listened to my younger self!” For Ina growing up, a school day was always a happy day. “School was a safe and loving place where I developed a deep love of learning,” recalls Ina. In college, however, Ina realized that not all of her peers had been so lucky. It was then that she knew she wanted to be a teacher, to ensure that future students had the same experience she had. Ina wants to help students love school and fuel their passion for learning, just like her teachers have done for her. We are thrilled that Ina is able to get a jumpstart on inspiring and supporting students through her service as a Graider!
There are many serious challenges facing the teaching profession today, but Ina believes that “many stem from our society not valuing teaching as a serious profession.” The old saying, “those that can’t do…” infuriates her (and us!!) as it undermines a teacher’s craft, their service and the difficult work they do. Ina is frustrated that teachers are often not given the respect, support, or funding they need, but she isn’t letting this discourage her. Ina is excited to enter the classroom, and she is working hard to prepare herself to be the best teacher she can be for her students.
We asked Ina to share her advice for any young person considering becoming a teacher, and her answer was simple and powerful: get involved. Get involved with your school’s education department or a student club, volunteer to tutor, or audit a class. Spend time within the education community, ask questions, and explore - you might find your calling. We at The Graide Network are certainly glad Ina founds hers! We are confident that when she enters the classroom her passion, energy and love of learning will transform the lives of countless students. We can’t wait to see her in action!
Ina’s tip for new Graiders: Pay extra-close attention to the rubric, and reference it as much as possible in your feedback! It’s designed to make grading so much easier (and more consistent) by providing you with everything you need to know!